Review: Realm of the Damned: Tenebris Deos

Based on the graphic novel of the same name written by Alec Worley; the first in a four-part series, the monsters have won, our world now belongs to them. The Vatican’s last line of paranormal defence – The Congregation – has been overrun by the supernatural forces of darkness. Our heroes are dead; only the damned remain, among them is Alberic Van Helsing – addict, murderer, survivor – and the creatures that were his prey now hunt him across America. But when an apocalyptic evil is resurrected in the forests of Norway, it falls to Van Helsing to become the hunter once again if any are to see the dawn. Directed by Tom Paton (Pandorica) and voiced by David Vincent (Morbid Angel), Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth), Jill Janus (Huntress) and Steve Beatty (October File).

The energy, Realm of the Damned has to offer is immediately apparent from its first moments; it’s dark, raw, unapologetic and musically inclined, of the metal persuasion. The second thing you’ll notice quite quickly is the type of animation used, it’s old school and remains fiercely loyal to the material it’s derived from; moving to the screen as if it had been plucked directly from the page. It’s a refreshing choice for a genre that has gone far down the rabbit hole that is technological advancement, it may not work as well to hold all audiences’ attention but that’s not really a drawback other than in the sense that it could be considered to become slightly repetitive.

The film certainly excels in its use of violence and profane language, which are undeniably enjoyable to watch and feels appropriate given that the atmosphere is shrouded in metal, still talking about the music not the material, of course. There’s no filter to be found in the vicinity of Realm of the Damned and it’s all the better for it, it remains true to being adult and fuelled by adrenaline and instinct. It does however have its issues, the story starts off well but somewhere in the middle it starts to become weighed down by its dialogue, the story is tripping over itself to fit so much into what actually ends up feeling fairly minimal. Despite beginning on a high note, the connection to the character of Van Helsing gets lost along the way, the focus is not overly strong and tends to shift around to different characters. The voice work however is first rate, it’s unbelievably in sync with the tone of the film and the whole atmosphere and energy is very much on the same page for every aspect.

Overall, first and foremost the film is excessive language using, violent and raw fun, it has almost a nostalgic feeling of retro animation series from the 80s and 90s.  It has areas where it could improve but it’s still worth checking out. A Mecca for metal fans, who will be the audience to enjoy this film the most but there’s plenty to offer outside that.

Verdict: 7/10

Available now on Amazon

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